Wednesday, 1 November 2017

October Observations in the Garden

If you wandered very slowly through your garden, on its worn paths and to its edges, what would you notice? What would be the same and what would be different? What would be struggling and what would be thriving  in current conditions? What would be finishing, what would be ready to harvest and what would be just emerging? 

A lovely day lily in bloom. 

Since attending an Introduction to Permaculture course last year, I have continued to read and to learn more and to think...a lot! One book I have on loan from my local library at the moment is Rosemary Morrow's "Earth User's Guide to Permaculture (2nd ed.).  I have really enjoyed sections of this book which has been a bit easier to understand than the few other books I've managed to find. 

There is an emphasis on observation in this book with it identified as a key skill to develop in order to define problems, see possibilities, recognise patterns and consider relationships. So, what did I observe in the garden during the October that's just gone by? 

  • sweet peas are finished flowering and pods are forming
  • day lilies are coming in to bloom 
  • rose geranium growing too close to entrance of native bee hive
  • tiny zinnia seedlings have emerged in areas where I sprinkled them - less than one week to germinate 
  • self-seeded lettuce under mandarin
  • new growth on avocado tree
  • last two homegrown beetroots ready to harvest
  • cherry tomato plant in 3rd barrel smaller than the other two
  • plane tree branches covered in spring growth, branches spreading out near Grevillea Lollypop closest to the house
  • ripe blueberries in clusters mysteriously disappeared overnight
  • first Lebanese cucumbers are ready to pick
 A much smaller cherry tomato bush in the barrel on the right. Hmmm...

Zinnia seedlings germinated very quickly. 

Plane tree branches are crowding this grevillea. 

Garden Jobs:  collect sweet pea seeds when brown & dry, cut back rose geranium from hive entrance, thin out zinnias as needed, check soil in the 3rd wicking barrel and top up water if dry, cut back branches of plane trees on our side of fence, net the blueberries!

I need to net the blueberries!

  • native bees in rocket flowers, honey bees in salvia, both in alyssium
  • crow brought stick down to backyard birdbath, put it in the water there while it had a drink, picked it up again and flew off!
  • cockatoo with rocket seed pod up on verandah railing, using beak to rip open pod and eat seeds inside
  • Bluey (our resident blue-tongue) just peeking out from under boards at edge of front verandah garden, first sighting!
  • King Parrots and Pale-headed Rosellas feeding on flowers of larger red-flowering grevillea outside our bedroom. Unusual to see both these types of birds.
  • aphids on the roses
Garden Jobs:  lightly prune grevillea when finished flowering, allow rocket to self-seed in the garden so more grows for bees & cockatoos, squish aphids!

A photo of "Bluey", our resident Blue-tongue Lizard.
(This photo was taken a couple of years ago but he's still around...or one of his relatives is!)

We had quite a few storms and lots of lovely rain this past month but I can't tell you how much exactly because we don't have a rain gauge set up in the garden. Must remedy that! The rain and storms we've had made such a difference to the garden, seems as though everything grows a foot overnight after a good drenching. 

Good growth on these Canna Lilies.

  • More and different birds came into the garden because it was really dry, before we had good rain. 
  • Lettuce self seeds under the mandarin tree because it provides some shade and protection from afternoon sun.
  • Aphids are attracted to new growth & rosebuds because they have lots of juicy sap that these little insects feed on.
  • Rain and storms triggered more vigorous growth in many of the plants in the garden. Here's a good explanation of why storms are good for plants.

First cucumbers and other delights from the garden!

Observing like this, as I wander around my garden, really focuses my attention, has me pondering things a bit more and looking for connections. It helps me to identify what needs doing, like squishing those aphids before they do any real damage to the roses or netting those blueberries so we actually get to eat some!

I wonder what my November observations will tell me?



  1. I haven't been out in my garden for a while now, I might have to remedy that!

    1. I wonder what you'll observe when you head on out into your garden?? I now have a little book where I jot down what I see and note the jobs that arise from those observations. Meg:)

    2. I'd be too scared to do that, the job list would be longer than my arm!

  2. Permaculture is very interesting, Meg. We had a workshop on the basic principles at our simple living group this year. We have a number of blue tongued lizards here too and they frighten the life out of me as I think they are snakes :-)

    1. Yes, Bluey has fooled us a few times too, Chel! I find permaculture really interesting but I only have a very basic understanding of it. I love its ethics of earth care, people care and fair share as that seems right to me. Meg:)

  3. There is so much to observe and learn when you really take notice. We had 3 pale headed rosellas in our yard last week while doing the Bird count. That was exciting!

    1. How lovely to have the rosellas in your garden, Belinda. They are such a pretty bird. We did the Bird count too, it's a great way to spend time observing our winged friends in the garden. Meg:)

  4. We had a resident blue tongue many years ago too Meg and then he just didn’t return one summer. Haven’t had another since. I have conversations with my daughter on the way to school observing the changes in environment, animals and sights. I only said to her this morning ‘isn’t nature clever.’

    1. I'm constantly in awe at the subtlety, power, resilience and beauty of nature, Kylie. The relationship between lightning, nitrogen and plant growth is just one example of the intricate and amazing relationships and systems that surround us in the natural world. It's lovely that you share how you feel about nature with your daughter. Meg:)

  5. You've just explained my daily ritual in the garden. Which is why it's so challenging when things in the garden go into stasis. I'm looking for the feedback, and there's very little. I'm glad your garden received the rain. It's so nice when it finally arrives.

    1. I find Summer the most challenging time in the garden, Chris, and perhaps it's as you say...I feel there's very little feedback for me at that time of year because I spend less time in the garden, I plant less so there's less growing and, if it's really dry, I don't like observing those impacts on the garden. Meg:)

  6. There is a lot to observe, I love being out in the garden, I had a morning out there yesterday, I find it the best way to relax, when I am gardening my mind is clear.

    1. I love being out in the garden too. I love to sit out on the grass or slowly wander around looking at the plants and flowers, listening to the birds. Just magic! Meg:)

  7. Your garden looks fantastic, Meg. It's so productive. It's wonderful that you get so much rain.

    1. Thanks! The recent rain has truly been wonderful. It can get very dry here so when the rain comes it's fantastic and the garden really responds. Meg:)

  8. Replies
    1. I think homegrown cucumbers are the best, Kathy! They are so fresh, flavoursome and crunchy! I love to just pick one and munch on it as I walk around the garden. Meg:)

  9. Your garden is really thriving Meg. I'm impressed with those cucumbers...mine usually fall victim to powdery mildew, as do the pumpkins and zucchinis. Fingers crossed though, the milk solution seems to be working on the zucchini plants this year. Love the photo of 'your' blue tongue lizard!

    1. My son took that photo, Maria. He just loves seeing Bluey in the garden. He's a rather healthy lizard which is great because he's happy to stay where the food is! Meg:)

  10. Wow your garden is looking fantastic Meg! So many things growing really well, love it!


    1. It's really looking good after the rain, Tania. Things are lush and green ... not sure they'll be that way if Summer is long and hot and dry. Have you had any rain yet? Meg:)